Canadian firm to build three apartment towers in downtown L.A.


A Canadian developer has started work on a $100-million luxury apartment building in downtown Los Angeles, the first of three high-rise residential complexes it plans to build in the booming neighborhood.

Onni Group of Vancouver is erecting a 32-story tower on a former parking lot at the northeast corner of Olive and 9th streets. The site is next door to a well-known 12-story office building that opened in 1926 as the headquarters of Pacific National Bank.

Onni’s building, to be known as 888 Olive, will have 283 units — each with a private balcony — over street-level shops and restaurants. It will have a swimming pool and fitness center, Onni said. Completion is set for early 2015.


The wave of commercial development spreading across downtown appears similar to the transformation of urban Vancouver that took place over the last 15 years, said Apriano Meola, vice president of U.S. operations for Onni.

The company also plans to develop a second residential tower on Olive Street next door to 888 Olive and a third at 12th and Flower streets just west of Staples Center. Onni also bought the Union Lofts, a 10-story office tower turned apartment building at 8th and Hill streets that opened in 1928 as the headquarters of Union Bank.

Onni is one of Canada’s largest private developers, having built more than 5,000 residences in the last decade with an additional 4,000 under construction, the company said.

$105-million Westchester complex underway

A big empty lot north of Los Angeles International Airport in Westchester is getting an upgrade: $105 million worth of apartments and shops.

Work has begun on a 260-unit complex near the southwest corner of Manchester Avenue and Rayford Drive called Playa del Oro West, Los Angeles developer Decron Properties Corp. said.

The development is the second phase of a project Decron began in 2002 with the purchase of 13 acres at Manchester and Lincoln Boulevard that included a 12-story hotel previously known as the Furama and before that as the Airport Marina Hotel.

Decron sold the hotel, now known as Custom Hotel, while developing the rest of the parcel. The first phase, completed in 2009, put 405 apartments over shops in five-story buildings with underground parking.

Decron recently secured a $67-million construction loan for the final phase of Playa del Oro, President David J. Nagel said.

“The construction of these additional 260 units completes our vision of replacing an old, tired hotel that no longer served this bedroom community with a dynamic, true mixed-use project,” he said.

Upon completion in about 21 months, the total Playa del Oro complex will have 665 apartments and 110,000 square feet of shops. Retail tenants include Ralph’s Fresh Fare, LA Fitness and Kinecta Federal Credit Union.

Medical provider to move headquarters

Nonprofit medical provider MemorialCare Health System will move its headquarters from Fountain Valley to Costa Mesa because it has acquired a 15-acre corporate campus near the 405 Freeway.

MemorialCare will consolidate several teams now in other Southern California offices in 180,000 square feet at 1588 South Coast Drive, real estate brokerage Newmark Grubb Knight Frank said.

Terms of the sale by a limited liability corporation were not disclosed, but real estate experts familiar with the Orange County market valued the deal at about $34 million.

The property was previously occupied by Abraxis Bioscience, which was purchased by Celgene Corp. in October 2010, broker Tim Helgeson of Newmark Grubb said. It has been mostly vacant since.

The campus, expected to be occupied in late 2013, will bring together teams from MemorialCare’s corporate office, physician support locations and medical groups, including MemorialCare Medical Group, Greater Newport Physicians and Nautilus Healthcare Management Group.

The transaction was the largest headquarters purchase over the last year by an Orange County company, Helgeson said.